Friday, March 23, 2012

Cupcake Wars

Alright, well it's not really a war.  These two are on opposite sides, but they do say opposites attract.

I wanted to make cupcakes for the employees at work.  This would mean making at least 50.  I was up for the task.

I really wanted to make the recipe that I got in my special delivery and this was a perfect time to do so.  However, I knew everyone would not like a mocha cupcake, and I had a ton of strawberries, so I sought out a good strawberry cupcake recipe.

Let's start with chocolate, why shouldn't we?

There were wet and dry ingredients, like usual, but these were not as normal as you would think.

Wet ingredients consisted of oil, vanilla and buttermilk. Oil is so fun, so is science :D

The dry ingredients were pretty standard.  Flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and our friend espresso powder (which I hope has a long shelf life, as I have recently given up coffee.)

Mixed together they make a very tasty looking batter.  Dip your finger in it?  Don't mind if I do!

They made some tasty chocolate cupcakes.  They were not as moist as I had expected, but maybe I should have cooked them just a tad less or had my mixer mix them a little less.

Chocolate sprinkles were added to the frosting.  Aren't they pretty?? :)

Strawberry cupcakes are next.  I like to look at several recipes and read reviews before I attempt one.  I really wanted one with fresh strawberries.  After searching, I was not surprised to find one on Annie's site.  I used her recipe for the cupcakes, and intended to using her recipe for the frosting.  Unfortunately when it came time to make the frosting, I couldn't find the cream cheese I know I purchased.  Oh well, next time.

Fortunately I found a great strawberry buttermilk recipe.  Let's get started...

The batter was pretty simple, yet delicious.  I doubled both the chocolate and this recipe, and I was very lucky my mixer was large enough to hold it all.

The batter looked and tasted so good.  I was very excited.  After baking they looked just as delicious.

Of course you could eat them as is, but why would you?  Let's add some buttercream frosting, please.

I don't know why I didn't take a picture of the strawberry alone, but there you have it, opposites attracting and being tasty friends.

Recipe for Deep Dark Mocha Cupcakes (from Joy the Baker's special delivery)

2 cups plus 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup double-dutch cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups buttermilk
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.  In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to over-mix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups and place in the oven for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cup comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack until completely cool before topping with espresso buttercream.

For the buttercream frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons hot water
2 teaspoons instant espresso

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and 1/3 of the sugar.  Beat until thick and incorporated.  In a tiny bowl, stir together vanilla, hot water and espresso powder.  Stir until powder is dissolved.  Add the remaining sugar and espresso mixture to the bowl.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and slightly fluffy.  Spread on cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles! 

Recipe for the Strawberry Cupcakes (adapted from here)

5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chopped strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chopped strawberries. Fill cupcake wells ¾ full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Strawberry Buttermilk Frosting (recipe found here)

4 sticks (16 tbsp) of butter, room temperature 
2 cup strawberries, pureed (I measured out the strawberries first and then pureed them)
6 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter in the mixer on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. On slow speed, gradually add about 2 cups of powdered sugar and turn back up to high for a few minutes to really incorporate the sugar. Turn to slow speed again and fold in the strawberries. Add more sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Once all the sugar is incorporated, turn to medium-high for a few minutes to mix well.  

One thing I did learn from this experience is that I need to practice and get more creative with my decorating tips.  Oh, and I need to buy more :)